The battlefield situation around Donetsk Oblast's Bakhmut remains "difficult" as the assault units of the Russian state-backed mercenary group Wagner continue trying to break through the Ukrainian defense and advance to the central areas of the city, Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine's Ground Forces, said on March 13.
"In fierce battles, our defenders inflict significant losses on the enemy. All enemy attempts to capture the city are repelled by artillery, tanks, and other firepower," Syrskyi said, as quoted by the Ukrainian defense ministry's media center.
He added that Ukraine's Armed Forces continued the defense of the "fortress," as the Ukrainian authorities often call the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, which has been Russia's main target for over seven months.
Russia's assault on Bakhmut relies heavily on Wagner Group forces, which have taken control of most of the eastern part of Bakhmut, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry's daily intelligence update published on March 11.
Wagner troops, however, are facing a new challenge with the Bakhmutka River that divides the city in two and now marks the front line.
President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on March 7 that Russian forces would have an "open road" to seize other critical settlements in eastern Ukraine if they capture Bakhmut, defending Kyiv's decision to continue the city's defense despite Ukrainian troops also suffering heavy losses.